ST. PETERSBURG — LHP David Price is adamant that he wasn't pitching badly in losing his past two starts. Instead, he says he just threw a few bad pitches, an important difference.
"I feel good," Price said. "It just comes down to making pitches. That's all it is. That's all it has been the entire year. I've just got to be able to go out there and make pitches.
"I normally go out there and compete and give everything I have. I just have to be able to make the pitches when I need to. It's something I haven't done as well in my last two starts. It will turn around."
Among the pitches he didn't make were changeups that resulted in two game-deciding hits — a three-run homer to Oakland No. 9 hitter Kurt Suzuki on Aug. 30 and a bases-loaded double to Angels No. 9 hitter Colin Cowgill on Thursday. For the season, Price has allowed No. 9 hitters a .286 average and .792 on-base plus slugging percentage, his second-highest numbers.
Manager Joe Maddon said Price (who starts tonight vs. Boston) has the right take.
"That's pretty much it," Maddon said. "Suzuki got him in Oakland, and even Cowgill's got the blues. … The bottom (of the order) has hurt us, it's hurt David a couple times. He's throwing the ball great. There's not a thing wrong with the way he's throwing the baseball. His stuff has been fabulous."
THE BIG 3-0: 3B Evan Longoria is one homer shy of reaching 30 for the third time in his past five seasons. "Thirty is pretty solid," Maddon said. "Thirty home runs these days really represents some pretty good power. I think it's outstanding — and that's with a really tough month-and-a-half. It's been unusual to see him struggle like he has … and to still be able to put up those kind of numbers; he's a unique player. This is the kind of thing he can do on an annual basis, and he's going to keep getting better." Longoria is also four homers from Carlos Peña's franchise record of 163.
NOT-SO-MINOR MATTERS: Advanced Class A Charlotte lost 4-0 to Daytona (Cubs), falling in the best-of-five Florida State League final in four games. … Triple-A Durham opens the best-of-five International League final at home tonight against Boston's Pawtucket team, with RHP Jake Odorizzi on the mound and RHP J.D. Martin in Game 2.
MISCELLANY: RHP Jesse Crain, whose previously strained shoulder felt good after Saturday's first bullpen session, is scheduled to throw off the mound again today. … RHP Chris Archer and Good Sports donated $6,700 worth of sports equipment and apparel on Monday to the St. Petersburg Police Athletic League that works with at-risk youth. … Maddon planned to spend Monday's final off day in his new 40-foot RV at Fort De Soto. … The 2014 schedule will be released today; interleague guests are the Brewers, Cards, Marlins and Pirates; the Rays visit the Cards, Cubs, Marlins and Reds.